For many, Christmas is a time of joy and excitement. Even those among us without deep religious sensibilities often appreciate Christmas for its happy connotations: Families reunited, gifts exchanged, coworkers appreciating each other at “holiday parties,” and decorations standing out against the bleak darkness of deep winter. Media and marketers exploit our happy associations by framing their products with warm holiday images, but they tend to exclude the soberer religious themes of Christmas.
Jesus comes as a baby boy, but more than a cuddly face: His is the birth of a new prince in the enemy’s territory. His coming promises God’s overthrow of worldly powers, and the beginning of a new and perfect government from God, as foretold in this Sunday’s readings by both the prophet and the Virgin Mary. Our Christmas carols often reflect a keen appreciation for the power of Christmas to save us:
O ye, beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow
Look now for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing
O rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing. —It Came upon the Midnight Clear
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. —O Holy Night
It’s been a hard year for the Catholic Church, especially in Pittsburgh. If you’re suffering, remember that at the heart of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a new King, the promise of a new government on its way, of true and lasting justice and peace. It’s not too late to ask for help. And if you’re doing well, remember that it’s not too soon to reach out to your suffering neighbors to give them here and now an early hint of that coming Kingdom. —Fr. Dave
Please note the most important advisory councils for each parish have now been (mostly) assembled. I depend upon the advice of these people for the important decisions to come.
St. John of God